An essential BlueNote album by the great vibist Bobby Hutcherson, and a record that's split into 2 different sides, each of which display different aspects of Hutcherson's talents. The first four tracks are mellow and lyrical, with the kind of lovely melodic writing that is best illustrated by the cut "Little B's Poem" – included here, and still one of Hutcherson's most enduring works. The next four tracks show Hutcherson more as the accomplished modernist, working with edgey talents like James Spaulding on alto and flute, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, and the great Joe Chambers on drums – who also wrote all 4 of the tracks in this segment. The work is a key example of Hutcherson's devotion to the BlueNote "new thing" sound, and titles include "Air", "Juba Dance", and "Pastoral". LP, Vinyl record album
Elvin Jones & Richard Davis —
Heavy Sounds ... CD Impulse (Japan), 1968. New Copy ...
Around May 13, 2015
Heavy Sounds, indeed – a beautiful little set of dark-edged soul jazz from the mid 60s – co-led by bassist Richard Davis and drummer Elvin Jones! The sound here is a bit different than any work ever released by either player as a leader – and is almost more in the vein of BlueNote or Prestige work of the same period – hardbop turned towards more soulful notes, but also still touched with a degree of modernism. A key element in the group is Frank Foster on tenor – whose blowing here is superb, and really on a par with his own albums as a leader from the time – marking a strong sound away from too many years of Basie influences! Frank does a killer job on his own "Rauncy Rita", taken here in a nice sexy groove, and stretched out nice and long with a very sinister feel – and other tracks include "ME", "Summertime", and "Elvin's Guitar Blues", which actually features Jones on guitar! CD
Pete La Roca —
Basra ... CD BlueNote (Japan), 1965. New Copy ...
Around June 3, 2015
One of the few albums that drummer Pete LaRoca ever made as a leader – and a gem through and through! LaRoca had a touch on the drums that was unlike anyone else – free, but never "out" – and in a flowing, progressive style that pointed the way towards the sound of jazz in the 70s, but which was still firmly rooted in the soulful style of the 60s. The album's filled with beautiful flowing waves of sound – and features lead solos by Joe Henderson, strong piano lines by Steve Kuhn, and some great round basswork by Steve Swallow. The feel of the set's somewhere in the vein of Larry Young's work at the time – never too "out", but much more flowing and free than the typical BlueNote. Tracks include "Basra", "Tears Come From Heaven", and "Candu". A fantastic album, with a unique approach! CD
Mindblowingly baroque funk from Brother Jack McDuff – an album that takes the initial BlueNote tripped-out groove of Moon Rappin, and pushes it to a whole new level! Jack's working here with arranger Ray Draper to come up with some tunes that are miles away from the earlier McDuff albums on Prestige – very far-reaching and free-thinking, and using a blend of rock and soul-inspired rhythms to push McDuff's organ work very firmly into the 1970s! The group on the set's a largeish one – filled with hip players that include Joe Beck on guitar, Mike Manieri on percussion, Randy Brecker and Olu Dara on trumpets, Paul Griffin on piano, and Draper himself on percussion and tuba. The set features the tightly-stepping funky number "Who's Pimpin Who", which features some great vocalizations from Ray and Jack; the tripped-out "Classic Funke", which has McDuff really burning up the keyboard; the down-n-dirty "Wank's Thang", which also has some nice vibes; and the cuts "Y'All Remember Boogie", "Ya Ya Ya Ya Ya", and "Who Knows What Tomorrow's Gonna Bring". CD
Jackie McLean —
Jackie's Bag ... CD BlueNote (Japan), 1959/1960. New Copy ...
Around July 1, 2015
A real classic by Jackie McLean – a record that's pulled from 2 different sessions, but which stands out with a strikingly unified feel! The album was cut during the height of Jackie's bop years for BlueNote – with one 1959 session that featured Donald Byrd and Sonny Clark, and another from 1960 that featured Blue Mitchell, Kenny Drew, and the great Tina Brooks on tenor. Brooks' appearance on the album is especially great, as the tracks which feature him and McLean together crackle with some of the first modernist energy to show up on one of Jackie's albums – really hitting hard on original compositions that include "A Ballad For Doll", "Appointment in Ghana", and "Isle of Java". One of McLean's best-ever – and filled with great original tracks! CD
Jackie McLean —
New Soil ... CD BlueNote (Japan), 1959. New Copy ...
Around July 1, 2015
If you ever needed a record to re-remind you of the genius of Jackie McLean, this BlueNote classic may well be it! At first glance, the session appears to be the usual sort of date – a quintet outing, with help from Donald Byrd on trumpet, Walter Davis on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Pete LaRoca on drums – yet as with all of McLean's best moments on records, the album explodes with freshly creative energy from the start – getting way past any easy expectation in the way it sets up the groove and delivers the sound! Jackie's tone is amazing – very modern at times, yet with all the soul of hardbop – and although the rhythms are relatively straight, there's always a slight setting-free at points – that pre-new thing groove that McLean further explored on records like Capuchin Swing or Fickle Sonance. The sound is amazing throughout – and titles are all originals by McLean and Davis – great gems that include "Davis Cup", "Sweet Cakes", "Hip Strut", "Minor Apprehension", and "Greasy". CD
Jerzy Milian —
Bazaar ... LP Polskie Nagrania/GAD (Poland), 1969. New Copy (reissue)...
Around September 1, 2014 (delayed)
An incredible record from Jerzy Milian – easily one of the hippest vibes players in Europe in the 60s, and a key member of the Polish jazz scene that also included Krzystof Komeda and Tomasz Stanko! The album's an extremely evocative session that features Milian's vibes and marimba mostly in a spare trio setting – stepping out with a highly chromatic tone that has echoes of Bobby Hutcherson's straighter BlueNote work of the 60s, but which also flows out with a unique sense of color and timing. A few tracks feature great wordless vocals from singer Ewa Wanat of the Novi Singers – drifting along with the tunes in a haunting way that has a bit of a soundtrack feel – and the album also features a bit of guest flute from Janusz Mych. Titles include "Bazar W Aszchabadzie", "Tempus Jazz 67", "Serial Rag", "Valse Ex Cathedra", and "My Favourite Band". LP, Vinyl record album
A brilliant album that proves that even at the height of his success, Lee Morgan was one of the freest thinkers on BlueNote – always coming up with fresh ideas that continued to grow his talents! The first cut on the album is keep roof of that fact – the title track "Search For The New Land" – a beautiful 16 minute exploration of modal jazz themes, with an unusual stop/start device as a means of ushering solos by different bandmates – including Wayne Shorter on tenor, Grant Green on guitar, and Herbie Hancock on piano! The approach is unlike anything that Morgan ever did before – and unlike most of other BlueNote as well – and it also benefits from great rhythmic help from Reggie Workman on bass and Billy Higgins on drums. Other tunes are a bit more conventional, but still pretty special – like some of Morgan's inventive work on the Rajah albums – with titles that include "The Joker", "Melancholee", "Mr. Kenyatta" and "Morgan The Pirate". LP, Vinyl record album
A killer set of tracks by one of the best piano players that BlueNote ever recorded – and a great trio outing that sparkles with soulful intensity! Even in this more traditional format, Horace Parlan's still one of the most inventive players of his generation – working with a sense of bottom groove that makes even familiar tunes move nicely, and hitting an approach to his solo work that trades flowery touches for earthier tones that often dance around each other with a focused sound that's really unique! Dark and blue tones echo out wonderfully throughout the set, and Horace's piano is backed by the extremely thoughtful bass work of Sam Jones and drums of Al Harewood – on tunes that include "Up In Cynthia's Room", "C Jam Blues", "Bag's Groove", "On Green Dolphin Street", and "Lady Bird". CD
Duke Pearson —
Right Touch ... CD BlueNote (Japan), 1967. New Copy ...
Around June 3, 2015
One of the hippest sets that Duke Pearson ever recorded – and an all-out BlueNote soul jazz set that's even better than Pearson's classic Sweet Honey Bee! Duke's style is deeper and more farther-reaching here – with echoes of styles used at the time by Hank Mobley and Lee Morgan – carried off with some of the more tightly-arranged modes used by Pearson on his backdrops for other players at the time. The group here includes James Spaulding on alto, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Jerry Dodgion on alto and flute, Stanley Turrentine on tenor, Garnett Brown on trombone, and rhythm by Gene Taylor on bass and Grady Tate on drums. Tracks have a strong overall focus on the groove – rolling around in that rollicking mid 60s BlueNote style that Pearson helped establish as the label's trademark at the time – but titles are also touched with some of Duke's lighter lyricism, especially on his own solos. Titles include "Make It Good", "Chili Peppers", "Rotary", "Los Malos Hombres", and "Scrap Iron". CD
One of the most obscure sessions by Duke Pearson, and one of his first for BlueNote too! The album features Duke hitting a laidback and lyrical groove – working in a trio with Gene Taylor on bass and Lex Humphries on drums – overall pretty much in a soul jazz mode, but with more of Pearson's wonderful touches on the keys to open things up. The album's a nice counterpoint to Duke's later work for the label – much more intimate than his bigger band sides, but still put together with the depth that he'd later show more famously with his fuller arrangements. Titles include "3 AM", "On Green Dolphin Street", "I Love You", and "The Golden Striker". CD
A great electric set – recorded at the Lighthouse in 1970, in that slightly funky mode of Joe's best work from the time! Joe Henderson's beautiful soloing style, honed at this point on a number of fine BlueNote recordings, is set free in a band that includes Woody Shaw, Lenny White, and George Cables, who plays beautifully on electric piano. Tracks include new versions of "Mode for Joe" and "Blue Bossa" – redone with a sweet gliding 70s groove – plus "Carribean Fire Dance", "If You're Not Part Of The Solution, You're Part Of The Problem", and "Round Midnight". LP, Vinyl record album